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Anglicans on the front line of the climate emergency

Anglicans on the front line of the climate emergency

Dr Elizabeth Perry

14 February 2020 12:58PM

The Programme and Communication Manager for the Anglican Alliance, Dr Elizabeth Perry, sets out the importance of work on the climate emergency and how Anglicans all around the world are responding by taking action.

Across the Communion, Anglicans are on the front line of the climate emergency. Tropical storms, catastrophic flooding, changed rainfall patterns, drought, extreme heat, desertification, wildfires, rising sea levels and soil-salination are all part of the lived reality of members of our worldwide family.

As the Anglican Alliance, we are acutely aware of the increasing number and severity of disasters related to climate change. We also see how climate change is impacting people’s lives more generally, as a driver of poverty and migration.

But we also see the myriad ways Anglicans in every part of the Communion are taking action to tackle climate change and respond to its impacts: the Church is often present during climate-related disasters, providing emergency relief, and afterwards, helping with long-term recovery; it is engaged in mitigation and adaptation initiatives; it preaches and teaches about creation care; it shares best practice and training to build community resilience, especially through the Pastors and Disasters toolkit. In addition, the Anglican Communion has an active Environmental Network, has proactive eco-bishops across the Communion, engages with the United Nations on environmental and climate change concerns, and has made numerous statements about protecting our common home. Indeed, the Communion sees creation care as a central tenet of its mission.

As the Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, said: “Climate Change is the greatest challenge that we and future generations face. When we look at Jesus, we see one who instinctively stood alongside the most vulnerable in society. It is absolutely clear that following Jesus must include standing alongside those that are on the frontline of this unfolding catastrophe. Climate change will rightly be a central part of our reflections and conversations at the Lambeth Conference”

A critical year

This year, 2020, is a critical year for the world to take action on climate change and protect the integrity of creation. Two key opportunities for Anglican engagement are the Lambeth Conference in July and COP26 – the 26th Conference of the Parties of the UN’s Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) – in November. As the Archbishop of Canterbury says, climate change will be a core theme of the Lambeth Conference through its discussions and its legacy. COP26 which will be held in Glasgow in the UK, is especially important because it is the fifth anniversary of the historic Paris climate agreement and a scheduled milestone for all nations to significantly increase their ambition for reducing greenhouse gas emissions to net zero.

The period leading up to the COP is therefore absolutely crucial. In the coming months we all need to be taking action and advocating for our national governments to be raising their ambition and commitments in preparation for the COP. If countries fail to take the necessary steps, the integrity of creation is likely to break down. We will have failed in our duty to “tend and keep” God’s wondrous world.

Wherever we are in the Communion, may we – as intentional disciples of Jesus Christ – commit ourselves anew “to strive to safeguard the integrity of creation, and sustain and renew the life of the earth”.

  • The Anglican Alliance connects, equips and inspires the worldwide Anglican family to work for a world free of poverty and injustice and to safeguard creation. The Alliance provides a convening platform for Anglican churches and agencies to work together in the aftermath of disasters, many of which are climate related. Helping build resilience to disasters and building partnerships for response and resilience is an increasingly important part of our work.